On September 19, 2023, Kelly Wilk-Downs, OTR/L presented Therapro’s first FREE Webinar of this school year, Cutting Made Simple. She offered a comprehensive look at the:
Development of scissor use
Selecting appropriate scissors for students
Prerequisite skills needed for learning to cut with scissors
This blog post comes on the heels of Kelly’s webinar; in this post we are reviewing some tools available at Therapro that are perfect for encouraging the development of scissor skills in beginner scissor users and beyond!
Hats Off and On to Scissor Skills: Exclusive to Therapro is a creative publication called Hats Off and On to Scissor Skills, by Peggy Huntley Spitz, OTR. This book consists of 25 themed hat designs that can be made for 4 progressive levels of cutting skills:
Straight line cutting and/or random snipping
Curved line cutting
Simple shape cutting
Complex shape cutting
This is a fun and unique activity book that will help you create an enjoyable project for the developmental progression of scissor skills!
Comprehensive Scissor Assessment Kit: Therapro offers a variety adaptive scissors that will ensure active participation from all students learning cutting skills, including those with limited hand function due to weakness, incoordination, and other functional limitations. Check out Therapro’s Comprehensive Scissor Assessment Kit, which includes 15 scissors of 10 different styles, plus a carry case and Manual.
Therapro carries a variety of scissors to meet the different needs of scissor users as they are progressing developmentally. Here is a sample of some of our favorite scissors.
Easi-Grip Loop Scissors : Easi Grip Loop Scissors are available in two sizes; the Mini Easi-Grip Loop Scissors are great for pre-school children while the standard Easi Grip Loop Scissors are made for the adult sized hand. These scissors are self opening for either right or left hand. They are operated by using pressure between the thumb and fingers or palm and fingers.
Self Opening Scissors : The Self Opening Scissors are available for left and right handed users. These scissors reopen automatically after hand pressure has been released.
Long Loop Scissors : The Long Loop Scissors are also available for left and right handed users. These scissors allow the user to use whole hand strength to operate. They also provide greater finger contact, which offers better control.
Mounted Table Top Scissors : The Mounted Table Top Scissors offer stability with scissors attached to a base. To operate users simply depressing the large handle.
Independence Day is a time to celebrate freedom and the spirit of self-reliance. For occupational therapists, this occasion holds a special significance as they empower individuals to regain independence in their daily lives. In this blog post, we will explore three remarkable tools that occupational therapists use to support independent living: the FunctionalHand, EaZyHolds, and Sock Aids. These innovative devices have revolutionized the way people with physical limitations can perform essential tasks, enhancing their overall quality of life.
Functional Hand: The FunctionalHand is a groundbreaking tool designed to assist individuals with limited hand dexterity and strength. Occupational therapists recognize the importance of hand function in performing numerous activities of daily living (ADLs), such as eating, grooming, and writing. Created by Linda Merry, OTR and Celine Skertich, PT the FunctionalHand is tailored to assist individuals who have difficulty with grasp, providing a means to hold objects for fun and function. Check out this video of Krista painting her nails using the FunctionalHand, By promoting independence in ADLs, the FunctionalHand restores confidence and autonomy to individuals facing hand-related challenges.
EaZyHolds: Another remarkable tool in an occupational therapist’s arsenal are EaZyHolds. This ingenious device addresses the difficulties faced by individuals with reduced grip strength or fine motor skills. EaZyHolds can be attached to a variety of objects, such as utensils, brushes, and writing instruments creating a strap that minimizes the need for grip strength. These handles ensure a secure and comfortable grip. By minimizing the effort required to hold objects, EaZyHolds empower individuals to engage in activities they may have previously found challenging. Whether it’s enjoying a meal, painting, or digging in the garden, EaZyHolds promote independence and enable users to pursue their passions with confidence.
Sock Aids: Putting on socks may seem like a simple task for most, but for individuals with limited mobility, it can be a significant hurdle. Sock Aids are assistive devices designed to make donning socks a breeze. Occupational therapists often recommend Sock Aids to individuals with arthritis, back pain, or limited range of motion. These devices consist of a flexible, sock-shaped cradle attached to long handles. By sliding the sock onto the cradle and using the handles to position it on the foot, individuals can effortlessly put on their socks without straining or bending. Sock Aids not only save time and energy but also restore a sense of independence in dressing, allowing individuals to start their day on the right foot.
As we celebrate Independence Day, it is important to acknowledge the invaluable role occupational therapists play in promoting autonomy and self-sufficiency. Through innovative tools like the FunctionalHand, EaZyHolds, and Sock Aids, these professionals empower individuals with physical limitations to overcome challenges and regain independence in their daily lives. By harnessing the power of technology and creative design, occupational therapists inspire hope, resilience, and a renewed sense of freedom. Let us salute their unwavering dedication and commitment to enhancing the quality of life for countless individuals, as we commemorate the spirit of independence on this special day.
On June 8th the Therapro team was supposed to set up a booth at the 2023 New York City’s Department of Education (NYCDOE) Assistive Technology Expo but unfortunately poor air quality from the Canadian wildfires meant the event was canceled. However, we still wanted to showcase the many ways assistive technology can be used, in the classroom, to engage all learners. In this blog post we are covering the modification ideas we were planning to display at the conference.
There is a lot involved in reading a book; readers must have the ability to attend and focus, they must have the fine motor ability to turn the pages of a book, and they must have the visual skills needed to see the words on the page. When reading a book is further complicated by these challenges, engagement can decrease. Fortunately, there are several ways assistive technology can be used to address these challenges.
Adaptations for Low Vision or Decreased Focus
Highlighter strips are simply strips of specially designed yellow material that stick to the pages of a book with static electricity. Highlighter strips brighten written words on a page making visual processing easier. These strips are especially useful for students with attention difficulties or who have low vision.
Slant boards have a variety of uses, for students who have difficulty with attention and focus they are a great tool to use when reading! The angle of the board will bring the book closer to eye level minimizing distractions and increasing focus. Pro tip: Learn more about the different uses of slant boards in our previous post: More Than Just A Slant Board!
Adaptations forFine Motor Difficulties
Wikki Stix are wax colored strings that are often used for craft projects. However, these moldable, slightly sticky strings are a great option for creating removable ‘page lifts’. Simply shape the Wikki Stix into a small spiral or mound and place one on each page of a book. This will separate the pages of the book making it easier for students with fine motor limitations to turn the pages of the book.
Adaptations forEmerging Readers
Step by Steps (available as Little or Big) are often used as communication devices. However, they can be a handy tool for learners with limited or emerging literacy skills. To use, record as you read aloud the pages of the book. When the user is ready to ‘read’, they would hit the switch to hear the recording of the book. To make this more interactive and to better imitate the act of flipping through the pages of a book, use the sequential feature to record page by page. With this the ‘reader’ would hit the switch to hear what is on the next ‘page’.
Just like reading a book, writing also requires many skills; these skills include the fine motor ability to effectively hold a writing utensil, the visual perceptual ability to coordinate visual input with motor output, and the sensory ability to accurately grade force. Difficulties in any of these areas can adversely effect handwriting legibility, speed, and endurance for writing tasks. The good news is that there are many accommodations and modifications that could be used to help with these difficulties.
Adaptations for DecreasedHandwriting Legibility
Handwriting legibility is often influenced by writing with poor sizing, difficulty orienting letters to the writing line, or letter spacing issues. Check out some of the options available to address these areas.
LegiLiners: LegiLiners are a rolling ink stamp that can be used to create a writing line on paper with open spaces. A writing line can be a game changer for students who have difficulty writing with the appropriate size. LegiLiners are available in a variety of styles and even have some great options to help out in math class!
Highlighter Paper: Highlighter paper features highlighting in the lower writing area (available is yellow or blue). This highlighting helps indicate where letters should be placed. Another feature of highlighter paper is that the solid lines have been separated to assist the student with locating the writing area.
Raised Line Paper: Raised line paper is a unique paper that features a subtle raised line to indicate the top and bottom writing line. These gentle cues can be a great reminder for students who write outside of the writing area.
Spacers: Finger Spacers and Star Spacers each offer support to help students better understand correct spacing. The Finger Spacer is a great tool to teach correct spacing between written words; it is available as a one finger (1st to 3rd Grade) or two finger Pre-K to 2nd Grade) spacer. The Star Spacer is a clever handwriting tool made of see-through plastic that acts as a guide to help the child understand spacing, sizing, and alignment of letters and words to promote more legible handwriting.
Difficulty grasping objects can impact a student’s ability to not only participate in academic tasks but can also impact the student’s ability to participate in extracurriculars like music or art class. Two unique devices to help with grasp and grip are the Eazyhold Universal Cuffs and the the functionalhand.
Eazyhold Universal Cuffs are an innovative solution to help students who have a weak or non existent grasp. These handy tools can be used not only in the classroom but also during extracurricular activities like holding a paintbrush in art class, holding drumsticks in music class, or a water bottle during gym. The silicone strap simply drapes over the back of the hand and the object is inserted into the two holes on opposite ends of the Eazyhold allowing the object to be securely held with the palmer side of the hand. Pro tip, not sure which Eazyhold is right for you? Check out Therapro’s What Can I Adapt Handy Guide for sizing recommendations!
Thefunctionalhand is another tool to aid grasp. The functionalhand‘s unique and flexible design allows the users to hold functional tools of many shapes and sizes in both the vertical and horizontal orientation. It is truly a universal cuff that is durable and supports a wide age range and types of disabilities. Pro Tip the functionalhand and Eazyholds work great when paired together to offer students both control and a secure grasp on tools.
Therapro had many ideas ready to display at the 2023 NYCDOE Assistive Technology Expo; we are disappointed we couldn’t meet you all in person but we are glad to have the opportunity to share these ideas here!